Judging Dogs in Mexico

When compared to AKC and CKC dog shows, there are some fundamental differences in the organization of Mexican shows and the achievement of a Mexican championship.

By David Swartwood | November 20, 2013

David Swartwood Judging in Mexico
David Swartwood awarding the best dog in the Young class at a show in Mexico. Photo courtesy David Swartwood.

I have had the pleasure of judging in Mexico five times and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every trip "South of the Border."

There are some fundamental differences in the organization of the shows and the achievement of a Mexican championship. Some of them could certainly be adopted perhaps for the betterment of the AKC and CKC. First of all, classes are divided differently. Classes that compete for a certificate toward their championship are the Puppy B class, for puppies 6-9 months of age; Young, which is for dogs 9-18 months; Intermediate, for dogs 15-24 months (and yes, that does allow for overlapping); Mexican-Bred; and then Open for non-Mexican champions with no regard to age or birthplace. They also have a class for Specials that have completed the requirements for their championship.

As the FCM is associated with FCI, there are 10 Groups. Loosely translated, that would split our Hounds into three different Groups (Sighthounds, Scenthounds and Dachshunds) and our Sporting into two Groups (Pointing and Setting breeds, and Retrievers and Spaniels) to account for the extra Groups. There are other breeds in what we think would be unusual Groups, like Miniature Schnauzers and Bulldogs in the Working Group, and the Primitive and Spitz Group, which has a unique blend of breeds, including the Akita, Pomeranian and Xoloitzcuintli.

During the judging, each dog is given an individual rating of either Excellent, Very Good, Good or Sufficient. Only those that receive an Excellent rating can continue on in the competition. Once winners of each class are chosen for the males, the judge has the option of awarding a "Certificado de Aptitud al Campeonato Mexicano" (CACM), or a Certificate of Fitness for Mexican Championship. This would be our version of Winners. This is repeated for the class females. Once they are selected, they both compete against any Champions and Grand Champions for Best of Breed. (Champions are not given an individual rating.) During the breed judging, the judge will select a Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, Best Junior and Best Puppy B.

The judge's focus is also only on the dogs and not on paperwork. Normally two stewards would assist the judge: one to bring the dogs in when required and the other to mark all placements and record ratings. This can lead to more dogs judged per hour and a more efficient use of the judge's time.

At the Group level there are a few differences as well. They have placements of first through fourth in all three of the categories being judged: Best of Breed, Best Junior and Best Puppy. The winners of each of these categories will compete for Best in Show for that category. At Best in Show level, first, second and third placements are awarded for the three categories, as well. With all the extra recognition, it is no wonder that the exhibitors are happy, evidenced by the fact that the majority stay until the end of the show to applaud and support the exhibitors and their charges.

To achieve a Mexican Championship, a dog must obtain eight CACMs from eight different judges, four of which must come after the dog has turned 18 months old. The dog must also be tattooed or microchipped for positive identification, and the owner a member of the Mexican Kennel Club. Certain breeds will also be required to be temperament-tested and/or have health clearances, such as hip, elbow or eye certifications. German Shepherds are even required to complete their Level 1 Schutzhund to obtain their title. For foreign dogs, only four certificates are necessary, and no health testing is required. Many foreign dog owners are drawn to the special events offered like the Pan-American, Latin or Caribbean circuits where a title can be made up in just one week's event.

The Mexican Kennel Club also offers a Young Mexican Championship. In order to qualify, a young dog must win eight Best Junior awards during its entry in the 9-18 month class. The Best Junior award is handed out to both a dog and bitch competing in that particular class for each breed at each show. Since eight additional wins from the older classes are necessary for a Mexican title, this is a nice way of keeping the youngsters active and gives them a goal to shoot for while they are waiting to reach the age of 18 months.

One of the significant differences that I admire most is how the FCM has implemented the Baby Puppy Class or "Cachorro A." This class is for puppies between 3 and 6 months of age. The class is judged at the start of the day when things are cool and the entire focus of the show is on the up-and-coming puppies. No other judging is done at this time. All puppies from all 10 Groups come into the ring at the same time to compete. The judge is in charge of selecting first through fourth from all puppies entered. At my last assignment I had 25 in this age group, and it was difficult to select only four placements; at other shows I have had as many as 50. But the focus is more on training, socializing and having fun with the puppies, and at the end of the selection, they can relax for the remainder of the day. In our system, the Baby Puppies are judged just prior to their individual breed's judging, so if you have older class animals, which is generally the case, once you have exhibited your "baby," he or she will need to be stuffed back into the crate or ex-pen so you can continue on with the older dogs where more is at stake like points or placements. Showing them early allows us to give them our entire focus — is this not where our priorities should lie?

In Mexico there is a consistent level of professionalism in the presentation of the dogs. The majority of handlers are male professionals dressed in dark suits even on the warmest and sunniest of days. With this consistency, judges do not have to ask themselves if the dog is a "bad dog being shown well" or a "good dog being shown poorly," again making judging easier when handling is consistently good. After each of the judge's selections, they warmly congratulate each other and seem pleased to be doing what they enjoy. I have not witnessed poor sportsmanship or bullying of judges at the shows I have attended.

Mexican dog shows are truly "events" to be shared with the family and friends and a lot of spectators. One final note is the level of care that the hosting club provides to its judges; a young, vibrant energy is felt from your arrival to departure. Mexicans enjoy showing off not only their dogs but their country. I have visited pyramids, museums, wonderful marketplaces and a host of other national treasures. If you have the chance to go to Mexico either as an exhibitor, judge or spectator, you will not be disappointed.


From the November 2013 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Purchase the November 2013 digital back issue with the DIR app or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine (print and digital versions).


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